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2014 Year in Review – Celebrating 90 Years of Caring

The year 2014 was a very special one for Cary Medical Center as we celebrated 90 years of caring for the County. Throughout the year our 90th Anniversary was a theme recognizing the original gift from Dr. Jefferson Cary that created Cary Memorial Hospital and now, Cary Medical Center. The year was also remarkable for the continued award winning healthcare provided by the Cary staff and the maturing of our relationship with Pines Health Services which has become a model for the nation. In addition a number of major projects were brought on line at the hospital including our CNG Conversion, T-Systems Implementation and the new Nurse Call System.

We also learned early in 2014 that our final report for Meaningful Use, Stage 1, and Year 3 attestation was successfully completed by the deadline which generated a payment to the hospital of some $700,000.  Many people were involved in this successful effort including our Information Systems team and many other staff in a support role.

Cary and Pines were successful in recruiting new members to the Team during 2014 including Dr. Murad Bani Hani, General Surgeon. We also were very excited to hear from Dr. Sheelagh Prosser, Family Practice Physician, who served with Cary and Pines some 20 years ago and contacted Cary CEO, Kris Doody about returning to the U.S from her time in Ireland. Pines negotiated a successful contract with Dr. Prosser who is now practicing full-time at the Pines Family Health Center in Presque Isle.

Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) was also a ‘front burner’ issue in 2014. The original authority for the ARCH Pilot project was to end in August of 2014. Cary CEO, Kris Doody, working with Maine’s congressional delegation was determined to get the project extended. Both our own Senator Susan Collins and Congressman Mike Michaud were very strong advocates for the program. Kris was invited by Congressman Michaud to address the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the committee ultimately passed the request to extend Project ARCH. Cary is one of only five sites in the nation selected to participate in the pilot project and it was the most successful. More than 1500 Veterans took advantage of the program and in a survey they expressed very high satisfaction with the care they received at the hospital. Cary continues to work closely with VA Togus and Maine Veterans Homes to maintain high quality, locally accessible healthcare for Veterans in Aroostook County.

Once again in 2014, ‘Award Winning Healthcare’ became a resounding theme as Cary continued to be recognized for outstanding clinical care, patient safety and overall patient satisfaction. In March, we were notified that the hospital was named a ‘HealthStrong Hospital’ by iVantage Analytics. The award highlights top performing hospitals rated as part of iVantage’s Hospital Strength Index. This is the industry’s most comprehensive rating system, leveraging publically available data to measure more than 4,299 acute care hospitals markets including 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals. 549 of the 4,299 hospitals profiled earned the HealthStrong recognition. Cary’s Women’s Imaging Center was named ‘One of America’s Best Breast Centers’, by Women Certified. Cary was the only hospital in Maine to earn this recognition. The Leapfrog Group once again gave Cary an ‘A’ in Patient Safety. This is the ‘gold standard’ for comparing hospitals’ performance on national standards of safety, quality and efficiency that are most relevant to consumers and purchasers of care.

Cary Medical Center, for more than 90 years, has established a tradition of maintaining a high quality, compassionate and skilled nursing staff. Some 150 Registered Nurses, along with Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nurse’s Aides support our in-patient care and surgical services as well as outpatient services including our Diabetes Center, Wound Management, Cardiac Rehabilitation, staff and patient education. Each year the hospital leadership reviews our nursing staffing levels and assures that all professional licenses are current. The hospital also works hard to provide ongoing education to our nursing staff with several programs offered in-house by our professional education team. The hospital offers in-state educational programs which relate to identified patient safety initiatives.

The hospital has also developed a nurse preceptor program and a dynamic orientation program for new nurse graduates which has been roundly praised by nursing staff beginning their careers at the hospital. The hospital has also established a unique Charge Nurse Leadership Program that invites nursing staff to identify potential leaders within the nursing service. These nurses, nominated by their peers participate in a multi-issue training program directed by the hospital’s senior management team and other hospital leadership.

The focus on nursing care, including a comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy, has created one of the finest nursing divisions in the nation. Staff have also had advanced training in digital approaches to care and now provide bed-side bar coding of medications and utilize a state of the art nursing documentation system. The nursing service has been rewarded with multiple national awards including Avatar Solutions – Scored Above the top 10% of Hospitals in the nation for ‘Communications with Nurses’, ‘Responding When Called’, and Pain Management.

In April, 2014 HealthGrades, a US company that provides information about physicians, hospitals and health care providers, notified Cary that we were being recognized in the top 10% of hospitals across the nation for patient satisfaction.

April saw an inspiring performance by an outstanding nurse, Ann King. Ann, who has coordinated our organ donation program and our infection control program for a number of years, launched the first annual ‘Donor Dash’, to raise funds for increasing awareness of organ donation. Struggling with a serious illness, Ann was determined to do the first program of its kind in New England. Supported by many co-workers and generous sponsors the event went off and became a huge hit with the New England Organ Donor Bank. More than 50 runners and walkers began at Griffeth’s Ford and completed the 3.2 mile distance across the finish line at the Cary Cafeteria, greeted by Ann King. This event is now a ‘happening’ in the County and will be held annually with multiple hospitals participating.

In May 2014 Avatar Solutions, a research, analytics, and performance improvement company specializing in employee and healthcare surveys, including HCAHPS patient satisfaction, presented Cary with multiple awards: Exemplary Service – Overall Best Performer 2013, (third year in a row), Exceeding Patient Expectations (seven years in a row), HCAHPS Best Performer – Communications with Nurses (Medium Size Hospital), HCAHPS Best Performer – Responsiveness of Hospital Staff Composite (Medium Size Hospital), and HCAHPS Best Performer – Pain Management Composite (Medium Size Hospital). This level of recognition is nearly unprecedented. According to the company Cary is one of only 18 hospitals nationwide to earn this level of recognition for three years in a row in the 13 year history of the program.

Cary also had a successful year for grant awards. The Healthy Maine Partnership, Power of Prevention was refunded at $120,000, the Drug Free Communities Grant (a Federal Grant) was awarded $125,000. Cary Kids Cook, a program to teach middle school children how to cook healthy foods on a budget received a $50,000 grant from Walmart. The Cardinal Foundation awarded Cary a $32,000 grant for the Safe Home Meds Program. The program trains volunteers to assist patients with medication compliance and provides community education about medication safety. Cary also learned in 2014 that a grant which we had applied for early in the year and had not been awarded was reconsidered and we were awarded a grant for nearly $900,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant is designed to help establish the Rural Health Innovation Network, a Collaboration of 10 rural hospitals in Maine. Leslie Anderson is interim director of the project which is designed to achieve efficiencies, expand access to and improve the quality of health services, and strengthen population health in some of the most rural and impoverished counties in Maine.

National Hospital Week was a very special event in 2014 as we again celebrated our 90th Anniversary.  We held a luncheon for our Seniority program and invited all 90 year olds to attend as special guests.  We welcomed more than 200 seniority members and 17 guests who were 90 or older.  It was a very heartwarming event and the seniors had a wonderful time.  Dan Ladner played piano and there was dancing.  It was probably one of the highlights of the year.  We provided framed individual portraits of all the 90 plus year old guests taken by Photography by Duane at the event.

We also took advantage of hospital week to honor Caribou Fire and Ambulance for being named EMS Service of the Year for 2013 Region 5.  The relationship between Cary Medical Center and the Caribou Fire and Ambulance Service is a model and continues to build one of the finest emergency response teams in rural America including a 24-7 fixed wing air ambulance.

In June of 2014 Kris Doody attended the Quorum Leadership in Quality Award Conference in Nashville.  Kris was presented with the ‘Leadership in Quality Award’ for Cary Medical Center.  This award is offered to one Quorum Hospital that has the highest combined score for clinical quality and patient safety.  This is the second year in a row that Cary has received this award among some 700 hospitals associated with Quorum.

Also in June, State Senator Troy Jackson and Representative Carol McElwee of Caribou presented Cary with a Legislative Sentiment recognizing the hospital for receiving an ‘A’ in patient safety from the Leapfrog Group.  Cary was one of only 250 hospitals nationwide to score an ‘A’ for four consecutive reporting periods.

Another highlight of 2014 came about because of our remarkable hospital auxiliary.  Earlier in the year Kris Doody had met with Auxiliary President, Allyson Masse and requested the auxiliary’s help with sprucing up the hospital’s waiting areas.  The idea was to carry the theme of the imaging center waiting area through all six of the other spaces.  The auxiliary agreed to cover the cost of all furnishings and the project was completed in July.  The project also included new carpet in the main lobby of the hospital.

Sadly, in August of 2014, General Surgeons Mariana Mendible and Andres Fleury announced their intention to resign from Pines and relocate to North Carolina.  Jim and Kris extended a sincere thanks to the surgeons for the service they had provided to Cary Medical Center and our patients. The recruitment of Dr. Murad Bani Hani was critical to help offset this loss and Pines and Cary are working closely together in an aggressive recruitment strategy to find additional General Surgeons.

Another major development in 2014 was the continuing work with a network of rural hospitals that were once part of the Maine Health Alliance.  At the initiative of Kris Doody, the group of eight independent hospitals considered the benefits of formal relationship.  Members of each hospital’s board were invited to attend a special meeting in August.  Cary Board Chairman, Gregg Collins and Betty Hatch represented Cary.  Plans were made to continue the monthly meetings.

Also in August, members of the Caribou Economic Development Council met with the Caribou Hospital District to present their plans for a possible Assisted Living Project in Caribou.  They provided research and information about possible locations, including the Cary campus.  Cary has contacted our legal counsel, Joe Kozak to investigate a variety of issues related to such a development.

The fall of 2014 was a flurry of activity.  In September the hospital formally celebrated its 90th Anniversary at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.  The Cary Auxiliary planning committee beautifully decorated the center with a fall theme.  Cary Board Chairman, Gregg Collins was the Master of Ceremonies.  The families of Don and Pat Collins and Norm and Barb Collins received special recognition for their long time service and history with the hospital.  Cary’s Relationship with the Veterans community was highlighted by the attendance of a number of Veterans leaders in the County.  Kelley Kash, Executive Director of the Maine Veterans Homes, along with Gary Michaud, Clinic Nurse Manager with the VA Clinic spoke about the remarkable partnership between Cary and the Veterans community.  Mike Halstead, Vice President Eastern Operations for Quorum Health Resources, also attended and offered remarks.  Jim Davis spoke of Cary’s commitment to quality patient care and the model relationship that exists between Cary and Pines.  Kris Doody, CEO, than offered closing remarks following presentations to the Collins families. The event was made even more special with the Loring Job Corps Color Guard doing the presentation of colors and Pastor Tom Bentum with the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church in Caribou, offered a beautiful opening and closing prayer.  A historical display was provided by the Caribou Historical Society and Cary’s Public Relations Department presented a historical power point including a special rendition of ‘The County Song’ by Schooner Fare.  The event was very special and will go down into the archives of Cary Medical Center.

Beyond the 90th Anniversary event, a number of other community activities occurred in the fall of 2014.  The 5th Annual Siruno Stroke Prevention Conference brought Dr. Joel Fuhrman back to Caribou for three days of dynamic presentations.  This year Cary partnered with the University of Maine at Presque Isle to host Dr. Fuhrman.  He was the featured speaker in the University’s distinguished lecture series with some 100 students, school faculty and community people attending.  He also presented to the medical staff during a grand rounds luncheon and then addressed nearly 200 community members at the annual Stroke Prevention luncheon at the Caribou Inn.  The program reached the most people in its five year history.

Cary’s annual Health Fair was another huge success drawing some 500 people to Caribou High School for free flu shots, exhibits and multiple health screenings.  Cary also hosted a special training on Eating Disorders.  The program was made possible through a grant received by the Public Relations Department from the Davis Family Foundation.  Working with a state-wide Eating Disorder Network, the training was done by three of the top Eating Disorder experts in the nation, including Psychiatrist Dr. Emily Gray who is on the teaching faculty at Harvard and counsels patients at Mass General Hospital.  Sixty area health professionals attended the two-day training.  Plans are to conduct follow up training each year and to consider the development of a family support group.  In November the Cary Public Relations Department was again involved in community health promotion.  SAD 39 asked for Cary’s help in putting together a training program for parents, and first responders on how to effectively manage individuals with Autism.  Matt Brown, a long-time police officer and father of a teenager with Autism conducted the training and was very well received. The Aroostook Autism Support Group helped to promote the training.  Cary will continue to work closely with the support group and SAD 39 and support ongoing efforts to help first responders and the community better serve the needs of families touched by Autism.

Cary’s Public Relations office also coordinated our annual community flu shot program.  Tami Kilcollins in the PR Department directs this program.  Since 2009 Cary Medical Center has provided nearly 11,000 flu vaccines to the community through our Free Flu Shot Clinics.  Cary also has worked with schools to assist in providing flu vaccinations.

A tragic fire took the lives of three children and their mother in Caribou on November 20th.  The incident brought Cary to a Mass Casualty response.  While the event shocked everyone it was remarkable how our staff along with Caribou Fire and Ambulance responded with such courage and compassion.  Our staff rallied to support family and friends and each other as we prayed for the victims.  The fire and our response to it once again demonstrated the strength of our hospital and why we are so critical to the greater community.

Other key highlights as the year came to a close.  Cary introduced a mandatory flu shot policy for the first time.  The policy was based on a similar initiative by Johns Hopkins Hospital.  The response by staff was overwhelmingly positive and we were able to gain full compliance.  Dr. Regen Gallagher took charge of the policy and its implementation and we feel much more prepared to deal with the flu season and to protect our vulnerable patients as well as our employees.

Dr. Gallagher also headed up another very important initiative at Cary in the fall of 2014, Ebola preparation.  The senior management team, department managers and the medical staff developed a plan to respond if a patient presented with Ebola like symptoms.  We also recruited a voluntary team of hospital staff representing all critical areas of response.  This team went through significant training and orientation to our Ebola readiness policy.  Dr. Gallagher was named the ‘Ebola Enforcer’ and took on the task with a true passion and energy that helped to establish a very comprehensive approach.  This became more critical with the dramatic incident involving nurse Traci Hitchcock in Fort Kent.  We continue to stay vigilant in our response to Ebola and we are working closely with the State of Maine and national Centers for Disease Control.

Finally and one of the most exciting developments of 2014 was the establishment of the Jefferson Cary Oncology Center.  Led by our two outstanding Oncologists, Dr. Allan Espinosa and Dr. Nadia Rajack, our Oncology program developed a new mission and vision to create a national model for rural oncology.  Late in the year our Oncologists along with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Regen Gallagher visited with the New England Center in Portland.  The goal of the visit was to introduce our team to the New England Specialty Group.  The visit was very positive and plans are to build on the relationship and expand resources for our program and the patients we serve.

The year 2014 will go down in the history of Cary Medical Center as one of our most successful ever.  It was an award winning year in clinical quality, patient safety and overall customer experience.  From more than 1900 admissions to delivering the most babies north of Bangor, and having a historical financial performance, we believe Dr. Jefferson Cary, in considering the 90th Anniversary of his generous philanthropy, would be very proud.

Several years ago Cary set an expectation of becoming the provider and employer of choice and we believe we have now accomplished this lofty goal knowing well we cannot rest on our laurels but must strive to raise the bar even higher for the next 90 years. It takes the efforts of so many to make this possible.  Our Volunteers and Auxiliary continue to provide a most valuable service to the hospital.  The Jefferson Cary Foundation, the Caribou Hospital District and the Jefferson Cary Estate have continued to be critical partners as we navigate the changing tides of healthcare.  Finally, the leadership of our Board of Directors, their remarkable commitment to this complex and ever-evolving industry has helped to put Cary on a strong and steady path towards our Vision of ‘Creating a Healthier Community’.


What People Say About Us

Here are just a few of the many positive things our patients have to say about their the care they received at Cary Medical Center.

  1. The staff in one day surgery is absolutely amazing. I was very thankful for my team of nurses, doctors and right down to the secretary that checked me in. You all were so amazing, friendly and professional. Thank you so much!

    Desiree S.

    Desiree S.

  2. I am beyond happy with our visit at Cary! We can't thank you and your amazing staff for keeping our little boy your #1 concern. You did such an amazing job! Thank you Cary Medical Center!

    Whittni N.

    Whittni N.

  3. This hospital was exactly what a hospital should be. The took such good care of my grandmother and the display of humanity and compassion was genuine. I am forever grateful.

    Joshua S.

    Joshua S.

  4. I had my son at Cary and I couldn’t imagine being treated better anywhere. The staff were attentive, empathetic, and went above and beyond for my comfort. I wouldn’t want to give birth anywhere else.

    Emily O.

    Emily O.

  5. A big shout-out to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Cary Medical Center’s ER, Imaging, Lab, Food Service, and ACU Departments. I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful care from each of you.

    Stephanie P.

    Stephanie P.

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